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27th International Snow Sculpture Championships

Three Weeks of Snow Sculptures

by Ebeth Miller

When you think of snow in Breckenridge, you think of skiing, right? Well, it’s time to check out the 27th Annual International Snow Sculpture Championships and change your perception of snow forever! Fifteen teams from as far as Turkey, Germany, Finland, Mongolia, China, and India are hand selected to take part in this competition, which will blow your mind when you see what is possibly with snow. Plus, they need your help for the People’s Choice and Kid’s Choice voting, so head to the Riverwalk Center and cast your vote!

The Snow Sculpture Championships are technically three weeks long, starting with the Technical Week (January 16-21).  If you make it down to the Riverwalk during this time, you will see 15 very large blocks of snow (25 tons and 12’ high).  This is what the artists start with. Breckenridge Ski Resort blows the snow, and then it is hauled to the event site and formed using wooden molds, front-end loaders, and volunteer “snow stompers”. The snow needs time to settle and compact prior to being carved, to ensure the most consistent medium for the sculptors. This may not be the most exciting portion of the competition, but I think it’s pretty cool to see where the whole competition begins.

The Blocks. Photo: Elizabeth Miller

Next is the Sculpting Week (January 24-28), which begins with a shotgun start. The teams plan and draw their piece months in advance, and now it’s time to make it a reality. Using saws and other non-power tools, artists manipulate the snow in unimaginable ways. I like to take a walk through the venue every day during the Sculpting week and watch as the sculptures transform from blocks of snow to gravity defying masterpieces. Floodlights illuminate their workspace as teams finalize their sculptures, working around the clock on the final night. Come down for some nail-biting excitement in the last few hours, before the competition ends at 9am on Saturday the 28th.


Teams Working during Sculpting Week. Photo: Carl Scofield, Gobreck.com

Viewing Week (January 28 – Feb 5) may be the most popular week of the event. The sculptures are finished, the teams can relax, and visitors are invited to admire the work. Viewing during the day is beautiful, with breathtaking views of Peak 8 in the background. But viewing at night is magical, and I would highly recommend making an evening of it.  Bundle up, grab a warm drink at The Crown Coffee Bar & Lounge (215 S. Main Street) http://www.thecrownbreckenridge.com/and go for a stroll with your sweetie. Or bring the kids, because they will love the colorful lights and vivid images. You can also warm up in the Thaw Lounge & Exhibit, the official event headquarters, where you’ll find historic photos, team info, official merchandise, and local staff with event info.

Viewing the Sculptures at Night. Photo: Carl Scofield, Gobreck.com

New last year, the Fire Arts Festival (January 26-29) was added the event. This four-day exhibit features burning sculptures, fiery performances, artist demos, and pyrotechnical effects at the Arts District Campus. I love the juxtaposition of these two vastly different mediums, which offers stunning visuals that captivate locals and visitors of all ages. After you make a full lap of the Snow Sculptures, walk across Main Street to the Breckenridge Arts District, and check out the Dream Team Spinners, a team of dancers performing with various props to create fiery patterns in the dark night. (Performances take place each evening from 5:30-8:30pm) Check BreckCreate.org for the full list of events going on all week long.

Fire Arts Performance. Photo: Breckcreate.org

The Annual Snow Sculpture Championships are made possible each year because of these talented artists who are willing to travel long distances and work around the clock, snow or shine, to create this awe-inspiring outdoor art gallery.  We even have our own hometown team from Breckenridge carving a tribute to the National Ski Patrol. So choose your favorite sculpture, cast your vote, and show your support for these hard-working teams. They don’t compete for money, just for the love of sculpting, and to bring a world class exhibit to Breckenridge for all to enjoy.

Team USA: Breckenridge. Photo: Gobreck.com

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